This post has more to do with the ‘GFC’ than the 1980’s Prince album of the same name. A recent NY Times article about the American outdoor advertising market sums up the state of their economy perfectly.
Taking advantage of abandoned retail spaces in urban areas, marketers are leasing them at cut-rate prices and filling them with ‘shop window billboards’. At first, advertisers saw storefront advertising as a poor man’s billboard — that is, a bad thing. Now, they see it as a poor man’s billboard — that is, brilliantly frugal.
Initially, I thought this was advertisers kicking property owners when they were already down. But landlords are apparently glad for any assistance they can get with ongoing commitments to building taxes, insurance and electricity bills.
Some sites are being booked at $500USD for three-month stints in prime locations. An outdoor billboard in comparable spots would usually cost $50,000USD. In some cases, landlords are even donating space because they liked the client (Conservation International have ran environmental campaigns), and also because it is more appealing to have something in the windows other than dust and grime.
In its most simple execution, a former high-end furniture store in Greenwich Village, Manhattan is now an ad for Snickers. Specialists in this area, InWindow, took the concept a step further, developing a launch campaign for the quirky stop-animation film Coraline. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xrsHBWk_z8Q[/youtube] At 14 locations in 7 US cities, they used a combination of technologies to bring the streetscape to life, promoting the film to a curious urban market. It allowed the advertiser to develop a much deeper connection with the audience than a traditional static billboard.
I am sure it boosted effectiveness measures and recall levels through the roof. The trend of using these spaces also shows that innovation is a powerful force in marketing, especially when times are tough.